Poet Akbar Allahabadi’s Grandson Filming Kashmir’s ‘True’ Picture

Tauqeer Zaidi.

A poet from Allahabad whose songs became chartbusters of Bollywood during late 1990s is now presenting Kashmir’s “true image” amid the festive footfall of filmmakers creating competitive genres in the valley.

With his upcoming flick “Unseen Love Lane”, Bollywood lyricist Tauqeer Zaidi is making his Kashmir debut this November.

“I used to think lot about Kashmir,” Tauqeer told Kashmir Observer. “And I believe it’s not fine to look into paradise from hellish perspective. Kashmiri people are beautiful and hospitable but they became victims of circumstances. I want to show true face of Kashmiris.”

Apart from local cast like Qayoom Badshah, Tauqeer’s film is likely to have one of the Khans of Bollywood. “The film will give a message of peace,” he said. “It will show sacrifices of Muslims for their motherland.”

As writer and producer of the movie, Tauqeer said several films have already been made on Kashmir, but his picture will focus on the consolation and confluence.

In a chat with Kashmir Observer, the poet progeny of Mir Taqi Mir talks about his literary and filmy journey along with his Kashmir story.

Tauqeer Zaidi at Akbar Allahabadi’s mausoleum.

Before film, tell us about yourself.

Well, I was born in a literary family of Allahabad. Akbar Allahabadi is my great grandfather, while the great Urdu poet, Mir Taqi Mir is my forefather.

My maternal uncle Muazzam Pasha Rizvi has been my mentor. During his poetic symposium in my childhood, most of the poets struggled to complete a verse—Yaad rehti hai kise saahil pe tufaano ki baat. Once I heard it, I quipped: Yeh to dasture zamaana hai khata unki nahi.

This is how my poetic journey began.

At the age of 18, my first work “Sangam Ki Lehre” came into the market in Hindi and Urdu languages. That created uproar because it was for the first time in the history of Allahabad that a young artist had released his poetic anthology.

During those years, I wrote in all genres: nouha, marsiya and qasida. There was not a single magazine that would not carry my poems.

As I gained prominence, I started getting offers. Then some of my books got published and among them Sangam Ki Lehre, Gurbat, Aaho Fughan, Daaru Rasan and Sehra were hailed and awarded. I wrote Mout-o-Hayat, the largest masnavi ever written. It has around six to seven thousand couplets. I also translated 700 shloks of Bhagavad Gita into 4000 Urdu couplets.

I’ve received many awards in literature. From the government of UAE, I got Shahir-e-Azam award. I also got an award from Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Committee and Ministry of Culture.

With late Dev Anand.

How did your film journey begin?

Soon after completing my Masters in Urdu from Allahabad University also known as the Oxford of the East, I wanted to go for a Ph.D, but my father told me to look for a job. That is how I went to Mumbai and worked as a bureau chief of a newspaper there. I started to meet cine-stars related to my newspaper coverage.

I once went to interview music director, Dilip Sen. Under the Yash Raj banner, he was composing title track for Sony TV. But somehow, he was not satisfied with lyricist Sameer and wanted me to write a new one. I wrote a song within 15 minutes and Vinod Rathore sang it.

With singer Alka Yagnik.

It was the time when Doordarshan era was over and private channels were dominating the scene. During the same time, celebrities like Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chouhan were struggling. I introduced them to a couple of places.

Back then, I wrote Pankaj Udhas’s album Janeman, Falguni Pathak’s Meri Chunar Udh Jaaye, among others. I worked with every music director and being an “A” grade writer of the industry, all singers except Lata Mangeshkar sang my songs.

With Bollywood star, Suniel Shetty.

But after that early brush of success, you suddenly disappeared from the scene. What happened?

Yes, because I decided to do something different. I went to Dubai, and started to work with newspaper Urdu Express and magazine Mustakbil. Then I got offer from an English magazine and came back to Mumbai as its bureau chief. But I eventually left the job on health grounds and returned to Allahabad.

Back home, I started managing our educational institutes. My father was the one who had introduced computer to Allahabad. But after my brother Tanveer Zaidi got brain hemorrhage, I had to entirely focus on my family affairs and got an honorary Phd.

And now recently, Amazon Prime released my film.

With Ghazal maestro, late Jagjit Singh.

But amid all this, how did idea of Kashmir come?

Well, I used to think lot about Kashmir. I reckon it’s not fine to look into paradise from hellish perspective. I used to see Kashmiri people as beautiful and hospitable. But when situation got bad, they became victims of circumstances. So, I wanted to show true face of Kashmiris.

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Syed Mohammad Burhan

Syed Mohammad Burhan has Masters in Mass Communications and works as City Reporter at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @syedmohammad313

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